Hispanics earned 8.2 percent of the engineering degrees conferred, up from 6.2 percent in 2007, again reflecting an underrepresentation in this area considered one of the best for job growth.
Diversity at the graduate level is not merely about the number of Hispanics enrolled or earning degrees, it also is about inclusion of Hispanics in the teaching ranks. That, too, has shown a steady increase since 2007, when only 6.7 percent of professors in business, engineering, law and medicine were Hispanic. Today, 8.9 percent are.
Law colleges have the highest percent of Hispanic professors, 11.6 percent, up from 8.2 percent in 2007. Medical schools come next with 9.4 percent of the teaching staff Hispanic, up from 7.1 percent in 2007, followed by business schools with 9.1 percent, up from 6.4 in 2007, and engineering with 5.1 percent, up from 4.4 percent in 2007.
Like student enrollment, the percentage of Hispanic faculty in engineering schools lags. In fact, it is considerably less that the percent of enrolled Hispanics -- 5.1 percent, up only 0.7 percentage points from 2007.
Bridging the Gap
These are positive trends in diversity for the HispanicBusiness Best Schools, but in many cases, the percentage of Hispanics enrolled, receiving degrees or part of the faculty is well below the percentage of Hispanics in the general population. Efforts are under way on a number of fronts to increase the participation of Hispanics in higher education.
Programs such as the University of Texas at Austin's diversity fellowships for incoming students help offset the cost of postgraduate education. The program offers a $16,000, nine-month stipend, with health insurance assistance (currently $1,100) and tuition assistance (currently $3,784 per long semester.) About 100 of these fellowships are awarded annually. But several efforts are aimed at filling the pipeline of Hispanic students so a steady flow takes advantage of higher education.
The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center, in a June report titled "The Educational Experiences of Young Men of Color" offered several suggestions to help increase the number of students, including increasing community, business and school partnerships to provide mentoring and support to young men of color, and education reform to ensure all students are college and career ready when they graduate from high school.
The NCSL in a July report, "Investing in Higher Education for Latinos," suggested providing options for students to receive career and workforce training as part of their high school and college experience, fully leverage federal funding that awards grants to institutions for student support, and simplify transfer between colleges and universities.
In March 2010, the Center for Urban Education offered several policy recommendations to improve transfer access to STEM bachelor's degrees at Hispanic-serving institutions. These include having the National Science Foundation provide incentives for colleges and universities to improve transfer pathways to bachelor's degrees in biological, agricultural, and environmental sciences and engineering; identifying points of intervention in the STEM curriculum at which students can be increased; and funding for faculty involvement in curricular innovation and collaboration among four-year and two-year college professors.
In short, the opportunities for Hispanics to gain advanced degrees in business, engineering, law and medicine are increasing, but to keep pace with the needs of the workforce, more needs to be done to prime the pipeline, to help Hispanics be ready for college after high school and graduate school after college; and to provide the needed resources to see them through graduate school.
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